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February 3, 2014

Our farm has seen quite a few changes over the years, that’s for sure.

We started farming in 2006 (seems like just yesterday!) on a small, 1 acre patch of weedy ground in Marseilles, Illinois. That year was, ahem, interesting. We started our CSA program with the wonderful folks over at Shedd Aquarium. Their enthusiasm was remarkable. That same year, we brought our produce to the Logan Square farmers market and that amazing community welcomed us with open arms and hearts. Alongside the successes, we had some trials too. August brought record rains that flooded our fields. We lost everything. While that year may not have been terrific for growing, it brought forth a new life for me. Our CSA customers came back. Our farmers market families came back. And I met the love of my life, Christina. Little did we know what would lie ahead.

As the years went by, our CSA program grew and we added the Glenwood Sunday market in Rogers Park. We worked hard to establish a reputation for the very best and cleanest produce. We moved our farm two more times since then before settling for good on our current farm in Sandwich. I fell in love with Christina (really, that happened at first sight but, you know, you have to play hard to get for awhile). We hired our first farm crew. We suffered our first drought. We bought our first tractor. We got married.

2014 brings yet more change. One of these changes is exciting and promising while the other is bittersweet. I’ll talk about the latter first.

Our farm made the difficult decision to “graduate” from farmers markets. Farmers markets have nourished us for over 7 years now and we are indebted to the many, many folks who have supported us at the market. More than anything, we’ll miss the bright smiles and the warm hellos. We will carry your support and love with us our entire lives. It was a wonderful experience and our journey continues. We’ll still be around though. Our CSA program is alive and well in these neighborhoods and our produce can be found in local grocers and restaurants too.

The other big change that is coming is all your doing. Every year, we ask for feedback from our families and, time and again, you told us that you wanted more choice in your CSA. We listened.

In 2014, Montalbano Farms is offering custom CSA shares. Each week, CSA members can choose what goes in their share from the week’s harvest. Can’t stand kale? None for you. Love kale? We’ll have plenty for you and yours. Want a mystery box? Consider it done. And if you need to get your share in a different location some week? No problem at all. Vacation? Take a week off and you won’t miss a thing. We’re focused squarely on customer service and we think you’ll love what you find at Montalbano Farms.

Thank you to all who have supported our farm over the years. You did it. Local, organic farming is gaining a foothold in the Chicago area and you made it happen. The change we want to see in the world? It’s here.

Christina and Rob and the whole crew at Montalbano Farms hope you have a wonderful week.